Browser Trends May 2016: Firefox Finally Overtakes IE

By Craig Buckler
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April brought us a shower of Samsung surprises, so can the latest StatCounter browser statistics be similarly exciting? …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, March to April 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month:

Browser March April change relative
IE (all) 12.54% 12.13% -0.41% -3.30%
IE11 9.40% 9.02% -0.38% -4.00%
IE10 0.80% 0.81% +0.01% +1.30%
IE9 0.87% 0.85% -0.02% -2.30%
IE6/7/8 1.47% 1.45% -0.02% -1.40%
Edge 1.98% 2.10% +0.12% +6.10%
Chrome 56.51% 56.89% +0.38% +0.70%
Firefox 14.29% 14.24% -0.05% -0.30%
Safari 4.17% 4.20% +0.03% +0.70%
iPad Safari 5.25% 5.26% +0.01% +0.20%
Opera 1.87% 1.83% -0.04% -2.10%
Others 3.39% 3.35% -0.04% -1.20%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, April 2015 to April 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser April 2015 April 2016 change relative
IE (all) 18.25% 12.13% -6.12% -33.50%
IE11 10.76% 9.02% -1.74% -16.20%
IE10 1.81% 0.81% -1.00% -55.20%
IE9 2.26% 0.85% -1.41% -62.40%
IE6/7/8 3.42% 1.45% -1.97% -57.60%
Chrome 49.97% 56.89% +6.92% +13.80%
Firefox 16.77% 14.24% -2.53% -15.10%
Safari 9.86% 9.46% -0.40% -4.10%
Opera 1.61% 1.83% +0.22% +13.70%
Others 3.54% 5.45% +1.91% +54.00%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. Edge’s user base grew 6.1% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

firefox browser logoIt’s taken almost fourteen years but Mozilla can finally claim to own a bigger slice of the web browsing market than Microsoft. Firefox stands at 14.24% while the combined IE/Edge total is a fraction under at 14.23%. Firefox has regained the #2 spot after losing it to Chrome in December 2011 (which then overtook IE just six months later).

Mozilla’s celebrations will be muted. Both Firefox and IE lost share to the dominant Chrome, but IE fell further. Edge has become the fastest growing mainstream browser, but its total 2.1% share of the market is matched by Chrome in growth alone every three months.

Chrome experienced a fairly sedate 0.38% jump in April. I predicted it wouldn’t reach 60% this year, but it looks as though I’ll be proved wrong. Again.

Opera and the desktop and iPad versions of Safari barely moved. It’s possible Opera’s new VPN could entice those wanting more privacy to re-evaluate the browser when the final version is released in a few months. A built-in VPN is the the only significant feature that differentiates Opera from other Blink-based browsers. Talking of which …

Vivaldi has entered the StatCounter statistics for the first time with a 0.01% user share. Vivaldi 1.0 was launched in April and is a great browser; you should try it. Whether it can make an impact on the big five remains to be seen. Currently, Vivaldi is positioned below country-specific browsers such as Amigo and QQ as well as the Playstation 3 and 4 console browsers.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, March to April 2016

Mobile usage increased 0.73% during April to reach 43.56% of all web activity.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser March April change relative
Chrome 33.80% 34.17% +0.37% +1.10%
UC Browser 19.60% 19.75% +0.15% +0.80%
iPhone 17.50% 17.48% -0.02% -0.10%
Opera Mini/Mobile 10.79% 10.90% +0.11% +1.00%
Android 9.03% 8.30% -0.73% -8.10%
Samsung Internet 5.53% 5.71% +0.18% +3.30%
IEMobile 1.64% 1.60% -0.04% -2.40%
Others 2.11% 2.09% -0.02% -0.90%

Samsung’s new range of S7 smartphones gave its custom browser a 300% user-base increase during March. The gains were more modest in April, but the figures remain impressive — especially when compared with Apple’s first drop in iPhone sales and revenue over thirteen years.

The iPhone version of Safari stayed static, but it’s clear Apple is losing ground to Android competitors. The company cannot expect buyers to continually upgrade every year when hardware differences are increasingly marginal and the only browser permitted on iOS is falling behind.

Apple appeared to lose interest in the web when native apps became a lucrative sales channel. However, within a few years, we should reach a stage where the difference between native and web apps is negligible. Apple is free to ignore industry developments, but history was not kind to the last company that neglected the web.

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  • I really like Vilvaldi, but the inability to dock the dev tools window killed it for me.

    Have switched to Opera dev edition with built in ad blocking and the VPN and generally like it, tho sometimes performance issues when VPN is on.

    If Vivaldi add docking for the dev tools, it would be my browser of choice.

    • Craig Buckler

      DevTool docking may have been disabled in Vivaldi because it has an HTML-based interface. That said, it’s almost certain to arrive since it’s a feature users are requesting and the company has promised to prioritize demands.

      The latest versions of Opera have been very good. It doesn’t have Vivaldi’s feature-set but if you want a faster, more private alternative to Chrome, Opera’s a great choice.

    • Pol123

      Sync and docking dev tools will be added in the next months they are priority for them,

      I wait my self for sync before using Vivladi as my main browser. :)

  • Jim

    How is the IBMi doing in the UK & EU?

  • mohamed habib aloui

    It has been a while using Chrome but as a web developer i found it much comfortable with Firefox despite the some time’s annoying slowness.

    • Tumacs

      Just a month ago I switch to FF after using Chrome for almost 5 years. I found ‘my’ Chrome much too slow, failed to save file (because I’m using ad block)

      I’m still waiting though for an app to sync between browsers at least our bookmarks.

  • Antonella

    I’m comfortable using both Chrome and Firefox, but I find that often Firefox stops responding if a web page has too much rubbish going on.

  • Craig Buckler

    OK, so should we use your sample of a few dozen sites or StatCounter’s sample of three million?

    It depends on the sites. For example, technical sites tend to have a higher proportion of non-IE/Edge users. Mozilla.com will have a higher proportion of Firefox users.

    Remember these are global averages and figures can fluctuate wildly from region to region. For example, UC Browser is massive in Asia yet hardly used in the west.

  • scott

    Why is it that IE is still at the top of the list of browsers? It makes reading the tables that much more confusing now that is no longer the market leader. Perhaps we could reshuffle the list to reflect the actual market strength of the browsers?

    • Craig Buckler

      Good point although they still need to be grouped together in some way. That said, perhaps we could amalgamate IE10, 9, 8, 7 and 6 now the numbers are so low to give Edge, IE11, and IE11> rows?

      Does anyone still need separate IE9 and IE10 statistics?

      • scott

        That’s a great idea, I think that would make the data that much more readable. Those legacy versions of IE should be grouped separate from the more modern flavors of IE.

  • Tish

    Internet Explorer? Love the new Firefox. It hasn’t just been updated, it’s been overhauled. I LOVE how they fixed it and made it the fabulous browser it was always meant to be! No more high CPU usage and crashing. It hung a few times since I’ve re-installed it but overall has been marvelous and working like a dream. I wasn’t planning on re-installing it at all but heard a still small voice from within telling me to give the latest update a try. So glad I listened.

  • gutterboy

    Just wanted to let you know that the link you posted for “Apple’s first drop in iPhone sales and revenue over thirteen years” is not readable unless you have a subscription to the Financial Times.

  • KevinCormier

    You are full of crap, there are other browsers on iOS (including chrome) and they are upgrading just as much as the other guys are. Its true that iPhones have less ram and less pixel count in their displays, but they still have the best lcd screen in the 6S+, their OS is lighter, and their processors have much better per core performance.
    The increase in android use is just that, an increase in android. iOS isn’t going away, android is just growing like crazy.

    • Craig Buckler

      Charming! Let me guess what phone you own?…

      You are mistaken in the belief iOS has other browsers. Apple does not permit any app to include a runtime – such as JavaScript engines. Therefore, the majority of “browser apps” on iOS are Safari with a different logo, user agent and a few features. They render identically. The only exception is Opera Mini which renders in the cloud. It does not run JavaScript on the device so Apple permit it – but the browser is limited to content-only websites rather than sophisticated client-side applications.

      No one said iOS was going away but it has been losing ground in both market share and revenues. Is it just co-incidental Apple has become more insular, avoids engaging with the web community and has been slow to update Safari? Of course, Safari is not the sole reason for Apple’s decrease but it’s embarrassing to be beaten by UC Browser which isn’t a default application and is little-known in the west.

      Apple makes attractive devices and, given your emotional outburst, it’s evident people still love them. But competition has improved and, in some respects, overtaken Apple with products offering more while costing less. Apple continues to be successful but they can only stretch consumer loyalty so far…

      • KevinCormier

        I don’t think sharing the same javascript engine makes them the exact same browser, but no sake arguing any further on that point. UC Browser is number one in heavily populated countries like China and India, no surprise that its that far up the list really.
        Apples biggest problem is that their older devices are simply too well built, last much longer than most competition and even older models are sought after in the second hand market. I think Samsung is starting to have the same issues as well, people are simply finding little reason to keep upgrading all the time now that the market has matured a little and others are finding little reason to pay a bunch of money to get the newest device.

        • Craig Buckler

          They’re sharing the whole browser rendering engine – not just the JS parser. Open something in Safari then compare it with the same page in another iOS browser (except Opera Mini). It’ll be identical, warts and all. That’s why Chrome on iOS supports the same HTML5/CSS/JS features as Safari – it’s not ahead like on the desktop.

          (Besides, do you think vendors would split their engines when it’d be considerable effort and there’s no guarantee Apple would permit it anyway?)

          I don’t agree Apple’s products “last much longer than most competition”. Their devices are obsolete following a couple of upgrades and they have just as many problems as others … although Apple is more likely to deny it.

          Yes, vendors find it harder in a market where most people have a reasonably good device. That’s what I stated. But, if you believe usage statistics, Apple is struggling more than others (including Samsung according to the S7 surge they enjoyed a few months ago). You may be happy with iPhone hardware but Safari has fallen behind and developers are increasingly frustrated with Apple’s attitude.

          No device will survive if it offers a shoddy web experience.